The Project Greenlight Movie: Stolen Summer

The script of local writer-director Pete Jones, set in 1976 Chicago, was the winning entry in an on-line screenwriting competition sponsored by Miramax and HBO, who’ve hawked their operations further by making the film the subject of an HBO documentary series that has subsequently become part of the film’s title. Oblivious to this background when I saw the film, I was alert only to the usual efforts of Miramax to provide heartwarming Oscar fodder, ample in this tale of an earnest eight-year-old Catholic boy who befriends a determined seven-year-old Jewish boy dying of leukemia. There are many plot complications, most designed to get us to applaud our tolerance of religious differences. The eight-year-old’s father, a fireman, saves the life of the seven-year-old; then the seven-year-old’s father, a rabbi, gets his temple to award a med-school scholarship to the eight-year-old’s older brother; but the fireman is too proud to allow him to accept it, until . . . Jones and the actorsAidan Quinn, Bonnie Hunt, Kevin Pollak, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mike Weinberg, Adi Stein, and Brian Dennehy as a humorous priestdo a pretty good job of filling in the blanks. I say give them all Oscars, send them home, and leave the rest of us in peace. 91 min. (JR)

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